How to Make Your Tattoo Darker Step by Step

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The unfortunate reality is that all tattoos fade over time. This is a natural process and there’s not much that you can do to prevent it.

However, there are things you can do to help bring a lifeless, faded tattoo back to life.

In this article we’ll go over everything you can possibly do to make your tattoo darker and look closer to how it was when you first got inked.

We’ll also go over all the reasons why tattoos fade in the first place and how to slow the process.

Ready? Let’s jump in.

How Can I Darken My Tattoo?

Exfoliating Gel

An exfoliating gel is one thing you can use to give your tattoo a facelift. Exfoliating gel contains alpha hydroxy acid from grapes, pineapple, or passion fruit. The gel works by removing the top layer of dead skin. This makes the tattoo ink look visibly brighter, since dead skin on the top layer blurs the tattoo.

The gel needs to be left on the tattoo for around 5-15 minutes. The acids will do their work quickly.

The downside is that the skin will regenerate over time, so exfoliating gel will need to be applied regularly to see results. Most people find that twice weekly use is good enough to keep their tattoo looking bright.

If you want a solution that’s cheap, easy and non invasive then you should definitely try exfoliating gel.

Tattoo Touch Ups

If you’re not familiar with this term, tattoo touch-ups are when you have a tattoo artist go over the tattoo again with new ink. This is definitely the best way to make your tattoo darker. However, it’s also more invasive.

This option is for people that have older tattoos that have faded significantly. If you consider going this route then it’s a good idea to contact the original tattoo artist that did your tattoo as they will likely do the best touch-up job. Sometimes they might even do the touch-up for free!

Tattoo Coverups

This is another extremely effective way to make your tattoo darker. The difference between a tattoo coverup and a tattoo touch-up is that the coverup involves adding a new design to the tattoo, instead of simply adding new ink to the old one.

This option is great for people with old, faded tattoos that want to get a new design. If this is done properly, you won’t even be able to see the old tattoo anymore.

Tattoo Removal

This is the most extreme method by far. If you want to get a new design but it’s not compatible with the old one, then this might be something to consider. Sometimes, dark outlines and coloring can’t be completely covered up without removing or lightening part of it.

The removal process is quite painful and expensive ordeal. Therefore it’s quite rare that anyone would do this to deal with their faded tattoo.

Can Tattoos Be Made Darker?

Yes. As we went over above, there is the short term option of using an exfoliating gel, as well as the longterm options of touch-ups and redesigns.

How to Slow Tattoo Fading

Use a Good Artist

When getting a tattoo it’s very important to do your research ahead of time. While it might be tempting to go with the cheapest option, the old saying “you get what you pay for” often rings true here…

Tattoo artists that do quality work and use quality inks/supplies will always charge more. Besides the health concerns that come with using lower quality ink, there’s also the fact that it will fade faster. Therefore, if you want to prolong the life of your tattoo, it’s a good idea to go to a reputable artist that uses high quality supplies.

Related: Top black tattoo inks

Tattoo Placement

An important thing to consider is where the tattoo is placed. Probably the biggest cause of tattoo fading is exposure to sunlight. UV rays damage tattoos over time so if you want to delay the fading process, then get your tattoo in a place that’s covered by clothing.

Another big factor in tattoo fading is friction of the skin. The most common placements where tattoos will be exposed to friction is on the inner thighs and on the fingers. Finger tattoos don’t last long because they are exposed to both sunlight and friction!

Do Proper Aftercare

The aftercare process is crucial for proper healing, as well as preventing the tattoo from fading. Make sure to follow your tattoo artist’s instructions on proper aftercare. This will usually involve moisturizing lotion to maintain skin hydration.


Sure, it’s impossible to stop a tattoo from fading. However, there are a few things you can do to make it darker. If you’re looking for something easy and you don’t mind having to use a product regularly, then an exfoliating gel might be right for you. If you’re looking for a more long-term option then getting a touch-up might be the right move.
Have you managed to darken your tattoo? Let us know how you did it in the comments below.